Niagara Street Industrial Heritage
1215 Niagara St., Buffalo, NY
WOMEN REFUGEES SHARE BUFFALOVE ONE STITCH AT A TIME
By Breanna Fuss
Spectrum News, May 24, 2017 (online October 2017)
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Tilo Bestova is from Bhutan. She and around 60 other refugees make up Stitch Buffalo, and on Wednesday, showed teachers from Tapestry Charter School how to make hand-stitched Buffalove hearts.
Once a week, the women gather to create hearts, headbands, cuffs, bags and other items they sell to the community. While the extra money helps their families, there's a deeper meaning behind each piece of work.
"You won't know the people if you sit at home," said Rabi Rai, who's from Nepal. "But, when you come here you know the people from all the different countries."
It gives the women a chance to break boundaries and gain self-worth.
"For the first time ever, some of these women are actually making their own money," said Dawne Hoeg, a textile artist who founded Stitch Buffalo in 2014.
Three years later and busting at the seams, local company Rich Products Corporation has offered to give the non-profit a building on the 1200 block of Niagara Street. It's been in the works for about a year, but there's a snag. The building needs to be rezoned from commercial to cultural and educational.
"It’s with the city commissioner and we are just waiting for him to sign off,” Hoeg said.
Hoeg hopes they get the stamp of approval soon so they can continue their mission, and spread some Buffalove, one stitch at a time.
Celebrating Stitch Buffalo – Planning for 1215 Niagara
By Judith Frizlen
Buffalo Rising, March 24, 2017
They come here to escape war, poverty and oppression. They bring rich cultural traditions including handwork skills. What they lack in language matters little when it comes to cooperatively creating handcrafted goods for sale in the community.
The women of Stitch Buffalo’s Refugee Women’s Workshop meet once a week at the CEM on Lafayette near Grant Street to share these traditions and skills. Only one woman came to the first meeting but word of mouth travels fast on the Westside and the workshop now serves about 55 women from Bhutan, Burma, Nepal and Angola.
To accommodate this large expansion Stitch Buffalo has been actively seeking a designated work space and a retail outlet. Planning is underway for Rich Products to donate the first floor at 1215 Niagara for this purpose. At the new site, they will offer textile arts classes for the general community in sewing, garment refashioning and other handwork skills. Refugee women will be paid to assist in teaching; they are also compensated for their handcrafted goods when they sell. The new retail shop will carry the refugee women’s handcrafts as well as donated yarn, textiles and more to generate income.
The organization has transitioned to registered nonprofit status and is broadening the services provided to include education in English language, retail experience and financial literacy, as well as textile arts.
Come celebrate Stitch Buffalo on Saturday, April 1st from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. at Resurgence Brewery, 1250 Niagara St. Meet remarkable women, sample international foods, view and purchase their products, and support another amazing grassroots project in Buffalo. For more information contact Dawne Hoeg or Joanna Stott at firstname.lastname@example.org.